Under a juniper instead of a cork tree. Picked clean by coyotes and bleached by the desert sun.
…but the coyote was barefoot. Fair’s fair.
…and now, 150 million years later, so can we.
The Morrison Formation, deposited by rivers, deltas, and shallow seas. In rain or snow it reconstitutes to dinosaur poo—you will never get the mud off your boots.
Where we put our feet can change within a yard or two.
Also true for others’ feet.
From hike journal, 10.8.95:
The day began and ended with a moon so big and orange it looked unreal, beyond natural, godlike: something to worship, for how could something so strange not be holy?
In the morning, as I drove down to meet the others at 7 a.m., the setting moon was about to touch the western horizon, oval as a big squashed orange. I stopped the pickup and said, “Oh!”
In the evening, as we drove wearily home at dusk, there she was again, rising: weird, enormous, still infinitesimally touching the purple mountains. We came over a rise in the road and all together said, “Oh!“
Later they switched moons on us and there was only that little cold dime, high in the sky.
After long heat, rain and chill at last. The little tinajas in the sandstone have sips of water now for birds, foxes, coyotes.
The sinuous watercourses are full of red mud. This collared lizard—male? female?—out and about before cold weather, was actually an outrageous neon chartreuse. With a muddy face.
One: two-tracks, the dusty, lonely roads that follow the contours of the West. The one above reminds me of a long-ago hike taken from the low road to Zuni.
Two: hiking high and wild, to beat the heat and get up where breathing is a pleasure. Lately that has meant the Jemez Mountains, raked over by wildfires but springing up green with the monsoon rains. We just missed the wild raspberries: the bears got there first.
Shining and blackest black: the obsidian of the Jemez Mountains at one of its prehistoric sources.
The closest road had been closed for years—at least since the Las Conchas fire in 2011—and was blocked by the enormous trunks of dozens of burned and wind-fallen Ponderosas. We hiked the dusty three miles in.
For thousands of years, prehistoric miners knocked down big cobbles of obsidian into pieces more easily carried to distant pueblos, where they would be knapped into knives, scrapers, projectile points. What is left is debitage; whole acres of mesa glitter with a pavement of black glass.
I forgot my camera. I was indignant until I remembered I’d never owned a camera until a few years ago. All hike records were scratched with a stubby pencil on a 3×5 card.
We went off-trail in the Malpaís. Snow and wind and frost-heaving had smoothed sand over the face of the weathered stone, healing the skin of the desert until we were the first ever to walk there.
Camera or not, it was a good day, though I wish I could have gotten an image of an old friend. Fortunately I already had one; it was taken in a different season, but you get the idea.